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Laurie Niles weekend vote: If you had to play another instrument in the orchestra, what would you play?

August 14, 2010 at 3:25 AM

What if, for a day, you could play another instrument? And just to make the fantasy complete: you could play it really, really well. What would you play?

Okay, probably I would play the clarinet, because I think they have some seriously fun and juicy orchestra solos. For example, in that one scene in the Nutcracker, just before the snow starts falling. And then there's the beginning of the second movement of Shostakovich's first symphony. Actually, you could make an argument for just about any instrument of the orchestra being a wild joy ride based on this 2006 recording of Shostakovich 1 II by the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev : Man!

To vote, just answer in the comment section. We'll have our voting system up in a few weeks for doing polls in the future. 

From Anne Horvath
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 4:02 AM

Piano, Stravinsky, Petrushka.

Though violin keeps me busy enough...



From Rita Livs
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 4:12 AM

 Cymbals. First, I don't think I'd fail this technique too much; second, I always wanted to try any drum instrument, especially cymbals. I'd play any of Mahler Symphony...

From Dottie Case
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 5:10 AM

 I have played concerts in our local symphony as a violinist, a clarinetist and a violist, and in a show pit as a reed player with a sax, clar. and flute at hand.  Each instrument brings its own challenges. I was first a clarinetist, playing for several seasons back when my kids were small.  In the woodwind world, it's not uncommon to count 87 measures rest, then have to enter with a crucial and difficult solo.  It's a very exposed and alternately terrifying and boring role.  

As a string player, there have been concerts I've played where I can barely feel my arms by the end...  12 measure rests are a long break.  But there is safety in numbers.... 

Violin is often more fun. 

From Dion Ackermann
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:59 AM

 I would like to change to the piccolo it is easier than carrying the harp around, which is very tiring on the arms.

From Julian Stokes
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 8:12 AM

Trombone  - a comedy instrument if ever there was one.

From Alison Daurio
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 12:09 PM

Ohhh I wish I could play the oboe!

From Bart Meijer
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I voted for timpani in honour of Leigh O'Hara, who taught a piano master class and conducted the orchestra at last year's Dartington International Summer School of Music. The last night of the week, during a performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio (in the middle of summer we had Christmas pudding to eat) he played the timpani. It was a joy to watch him play. 

From Richard Watson
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 12:46 PM

 Alto Flute in Daphnis; Bass Clarinet in Sacre; Piccolo in Rossini overtures; Tuba in Lt Kigi; Oboe d'Amore in  Bach Passions.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 2:29 PM

 The Strauss French Horn solos especially the one in Four Last Songs,

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 2:30 PM

 Viola, and I've already played it in an orchestra too.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Another vote for clarinet.  I find the Mozart and Weber concerti especially catchy.  Plenty of heart and soul here -- not to mention a few good opportunities to really ham it up.

On the melancholy side, I'm thinking of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, Pathétique, first movement, mm. 325-335, right near the close.  For me, this evokes images of a flat, peaceful landscape at sunset -- a definite "taps" atmosphere.

Speaking of melancholy -- there are some great clarinet solos in 19th century opera and music drama.  I'm thinking especially of the intro to the final scene of Gounod's Faust; Act III opening of Verdi's Forza; Act I opening of Donizetti's Lucia; and Wagner's Ring saga -- notably during Act I of Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Act II of Siegfried, and Prologue and Act I of Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods).

Undoubtedly my love of animals influences this last point.  Woodwinds, for me, suggest bird life and animal life.  Flutes remind me of birds.  Oboes remind me of kittens.  Bassoons remind me of cows.

From Steve Wyrick
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I've always been a big fan of the bassoon!

From Ned Horner
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Bass Drum!!!  Just so I could play the Dies Irae from the Verdi Requiem.

Posted on August 14, 2010 at 4:27 PM

The trumpet....   cheap to buy, no problems with projection, volume, etc...   and I would certainly play some jazz too!!!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Cello!!!!!  (If I had the fingers though... I already struggle to press violin size strings...) Yet another hard contract...

Perhaps they would direct me to the triangle if it was them that chose...  Who cares about finger or cold hands problems there!  I would probably be the "gadjet woman" with all the things you hit on once or twice during a peice.  Though I would get bored... and would have to wait so long...



From Jo Parker
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 6:07 PM

 Double Bass (and I AM learning it by the way ;) it's my second instrument)

From Erin Rushforth
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Trumpet, for sure! I love good brass.

From Jefferson Dixon
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 9:54 PM

Cello! There's nothing better than a whole cello section in finger position on the A string. So lush

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 10:23 PM

Having played oboe and English horn seriously in my otherwise misspent youth, the English horn still calls me like nothing else.  I'm convinced, though, that the music world's dirty little secret is that everybody truly wants to play the cello.

Posted on August 14, 2010 at 10:32 PM

Yes, the cello is tantalizing indeed...  my 10 years old son is learning the cello and the sound is marvelous...   I loved making celli too!

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 10:35 PM

A few years ago, when my right arm was injured and I could not play the violin, the percussionist in my community symphony orchestra tried to train me on triangle.  It was terrible.  You're supposed to count 57 measures of rest and then play a few "tings."  I missed every cue.  I'm glad I play violin.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 10:47 PM

poor you... Glad you are back to the violin ; )

From Kylie Svenson
Posted on August 14, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Well, if it had to be an orchestral instrument, I'd probably choose the timpani, because, as an ex-dancer, I'm fascinated by rhythm.

However, if I could choose ANY instrument, it would be the human voice (which, I suppose, by Beethovian and Mahlerian standards, is an orchestral instrument), because I think it is the sublime instrument which all others aspire to. And besides, the overtones of the violin are closer to those of the human voice than any other instrument. :)

From charles johnston
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 12:23 AM

 Hi- Cello. It's not as close to the violin as the viola physically, but there's a great deal more wonderful music for it. On the other hand, playing any instrument in an orchestra for an extended period, even as concertmaster, is a very good recipe for killing one's love of music.  Charles Johnston

From Rick Savadow
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 3:59 AM

Oboe. Along with the violin, the most gorgeous orchestral solo instrument in my book.

From Joseph Galamba
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 4:55 AM

I would say oboe (love the Mozart concerto as well as all the great orchestral soli).  Clarinet or French Horn would also be serious contenders for me.  

As for the orchestra.  I know many musicians who played in orchestras for many years and still love music more than normal people could imagine.  In their retirement they perform and teach so much that they barely have time to sleep and still listen to recordings or attend concerts in much of their "free" time.

From Richard Williams
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 6:20 AM

I am a cellist but am interested in the violin. My alternative instrument would be the violin!

From Louise Pallet
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 7:08 AM

I play and teach the violin but love the sound of the cello and would love to play it as well

Posted on August 15, 2010 at 11:22 AM

I would love playing the bandoneon (and composing!) like Astor Piazzolla...

Posted on August 15, 2010 at 1:49 PM

The cello !!!

Imagine playing "The Swan" from Camille Saint-Sans for cello, or Dvorak cello concerto, or the cello solo in the slow movement from Brahms Concerto No. 2 for piano and orchestra ! Or, even more gratifying, Bach's six suites for cello. That would be just great !

From Anna van der Merwe
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 3:16 PM

 Clarinet or Timpani! But violin is still the most fun :)

From robert keith
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 5:12 PM

 I think you are right, Lisa.   If I could play another instrument it would be the cello.  Maybe someday, I will play the cello. Who knows....

From Christopher Ciampoli
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 10:01 PM

Oboe/English horn I believe

From Amanda Bewley
Posted on August 15, 2010 at 11:36 PM

english horn! I already play oboe, I've just never had a chance to touch an english horn.

From Dion Ackermann
Posted on August 16, 2010 at 1:55 AM

 Thats not surprising, you are from the USA.

From Christopher Liao
Posted on August 16, 2010 at 5:28 AM

 cello or oboe ^^

From Stephen Lim
Posted on August 16, 2010 at 8:09 AM

Maybe a cello.. I've wanted to play a cello after I learn on the violin.. 

From Royce Faina
Posted on August 16, 2010 at 10:39 AM

Bassoon- I love Mozart's Bassoon Concerto in B flat major (K. 191)!

From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on August 16, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Maybe I should play the triangle.

Sometimes the viola repertoire I end up doing is so far over my head I get mad and frustrated with myself.  Then, after I finally nail it I think, well that wasn't so bad...but going through it all...ugh.  Luckily I have a great instructor that can calm me down when I start feeling worthless.

----Ann Marie

From Deborah McCann
Posted on August 16, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Cello or harp.  I love the sound of both and actually took 2 years of harp instruction in college. 


From Dianna Denley
Posted on August 17, 2010 at 4:17 AM

I'm going to be a complete oddball and say "Tuba", because I reckon I'd laugh myself silly just at the thought of me playing one.  I'm rather petite, and the tuba is such a, well, BIG instrument.  LOL!

I do love the timpani though and enjoyed playing them in my high school chamber orchestra.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on August 17, 2010 at 5:43 AM

oboe or cello.  The oboe always gets such sexy-sounding solos.  And the cello has such a rich sound.

From Mark Roberts
Posted on August 17, 2010 at 4:09 PM

does conductor count?

From Janis Cortese
Posted on August 17, 2010 at 7:24 PM

Not in the orchestra, but possibly electric bass.  Nagahapin, though -- when I messed around with acoustic guitar, my fingertips started bleeding.  No way am I going to pluck what amounts to bass piano wires with my fingers!  They sound wonderful, though ...

From Ana Ottenwalder
Posted on August 18, 2010 at 3:21 PM


i would play the cello as well,  just to be able to play Bach`s Cello Suites No. 1 Prelude.......

But im blind to any other instrument but the violin, its like my second child now.....

Kind Regards,

Ana D.



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